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From Jan Lehnardt <>
Subject Re: Introducing CouchDB Ltd.
Date Sun, 08 Mar 2009 21:08:02 GMT
Hi Gianugo (and Dave from your +1 email),

thanks, some meat, finally :) I'll just throw in some comments as I see
multiple issues becoming mixed together which makes discussion
a little trickier. I hope you and the others here can respond to my

On 8 Mar 2009, at 21:39, Gianugo Rabellino wrote:

> On Sun, Mar 8, 2009 at 9:25 PM, Jan Lehnardt <> wrote:
>>> You are an Apache project and this just seems counter productive.
>> In which way exactly? Getting people paid to advance CouchDB?
>>> I also
>>> think that several other projects have become entailed  of this  
>>> type of
>>> behaviour and had problems with Apache in the end.
>> We'd love to hear about past experiences so we can try and avoid
>> the same mistakes.
> Jan,
> one of the core values of Apache is its neutrality. Our
> meritocracy-based system is one of a kind, and something that allows
> commercial endeavors to cooperate on neutral grounds. Think what IBM
> did with Tomcat and, later on, Sun did with Derby - you most
> definitely wouldn't have seen IBM cooperating on the "Sun Java Web
> Server", neither the opposite would have worked with "IBM Cloudscape".

I have no experience with any of these projects.

> Until not so long ago, one of the requests we used to ask projects in
> order for them to enter the ASF was to change name: that was seen as a
> way to ensure Apache would have been a fresh start on neutral grounds.

That is totally understandable. I guess it didn't happen with CouchDB
because it was still "fresh" and did not enter the ASF from a commercial

> If you are to continue using the CouchDB name in your company, I'm not
> sure what the legal situation would be (it could be argued some
> trademark issues might be there) but, as you can see, you are likely
> to piss people off by sending the message that you are the ones
> "owning" the project which, in Apache terms, is a no-no.

Chris said, and then I repeated that we are addressing the naming
issue :) We do not want to get into legal trouble nor do we want to
piss anyone off. I hope the fact that we're discussing this here proves
we mean it :)

> You are
> absolutely fine in having commercial objectives and, ultimately, pay
> the bills, but the Wordpress case is not applicable here: Wordpress
> chose to walk on his own legs, hosting their project within their own
> infrastructure and no leverage on existing communities and branding.

I didn't bring up Wordpress. Noah did and he is not part of the company.

> With my ASF hat on, I see this move as potentially harmful, as it
> sends the message that you are leveraging Apache, which requires this
> community to remain meritocratic and neutral, while owning the project
> as you are the core developers.

Chris and I are two out of seven committers and two out of three PMC
members. With any of my hats on, I can only hope for and see the ratio
shifting towards the community in the future.

The naming-issue is separate from the meritocracy.

What other issues are there?

> Believe me - you are entering muddy waters here as any decision on
> future directions and/or committership is likely to be scrutinized
> anyways as people might and will wonder if you are able to stick to
> community values or if, ultimately, you will be driven by your own
> agendas. There is nothing you can do other than proving your worth -
> which I'm sure you will, but at least you shouldn't make your life
> even more difficult. :)

As I wrote in the introductory email, I'm in the exact same position for
some time now and so is Chris, the fact that there is now a company
doesn't change much from our point of view. Except maybe we have
even more time to contribute to the project :)

Chris and I agree that our commercial endeavour would be all void
if it weren't for healthy open source project & community and anything
we'd do to compromise this would be silly. We strongly believe in open
source and we wouldn't have dared to set out on this if the CouchDB
community would not be working so well.

> Changing a company name is one of the hardest thing to do - I suggest
> you reconsider as soon as possible as it might be too late later down
> the road.

Thanks again for the feedback, we hope to be able to address all
issues of meritocracy, naming and source.


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